UK

Report Reveals 'Staggering' Scale Of Foodbank Demand In Britain

Volunteers working flat out to feed people.

17/10/2017 07:46 BST
Matt Cardy via Getty Images
Foodbanks are coping with 'dramatic increases' in demand

Growing numbers of foodbanks are distributing emergency parcels amid problems with the roll out of universal credit, a new report reveals.

More than 2,000 foodbanks are now recorded as operating in Britain, with around 700 independent and 1,235 Trussell Trust centres, figures up slightly on earlier this year.

The report highlights problems with the roll out of the welfare reform as a reason for recent “dramatic increases” in demand, the Press Association reported.

Foodbanks provide goods and services worth £11bn to local economies, while volunteers provide free labour worth £30m, the report from the Independent Food Aid Network (Ifan) said.

Those giving up their free time to staff foodbanks put in a “staggering” 4.1 million hours of unpaid work every year distributing supplies.

‘Britain’s hunger crisis’

Professor Jon May of Ifan said: “Ifan supports the efforts of the thousands of food banks, and tens of thousands of volunteers, working so hard to help feed their communities.

“But we call on Government to stop relying on food banks, and to accept its responsibilities for Britain’s hunger crisis.

“In exchange for our financial contributions, Government is required to ensure sufficient support is available to all, so that no one needs to rely on charity to feed themselves or their families. That contract has been broken.

“Even as Government plan £12 billion in cuts to social security benefits by 2019/20, some of our largest companies continue to avoid paying their fair share in tax.”

Samantha Stapley of the Trussell Trust, said: “It’s astonishing to see a value put to the amazing and tireless work done by food bank volunteers up and down the UK.

“Without this vital community support hundreds of thousands of people would be hungry, and with nowhere to turn. 

“But it is equally important to remember that whilst food bank volunteers do inspiring work, they cannot replace the welfare safety net.

“Issues with benefit payments remain the main reason why people need a food bank parcel, and with issues caused by Universal Credit increasingly reported by food banks as a concern, we urge the Government to take steps to make sure people don’t face going hungry.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “Reasons for food bank use are complex so it’s misleading to link them to any one issue.

“We continue to spend around £90 billion a year supporting people, including those who are out of work or on a low income.

“Work is the best means of providing people with financial security, and with our welfare reforms people are moving into employment faster and staying there longer than under the old system.”